Smart PR Writing

A press release is a written communication that purports to report on an event, circumstance or occurrence by a third party, and is provided to the news media for the purpose of promotion.
Since the advent of the Internet the lines between “news” as compared to a press release are getting blurred, but the purpose of a press release, within its related format, is to reach out to the media to get them to report on your particular message, with secondary “direct to readership” benefits associated with overall Internet based publicity.
Every PR professional and entrepreneur has spent hours, days or a week crafting the “perfect” press release.  Your CEO is interviewed, your facts are checked, and your prose gets styled with precision and panache.  It goes through a committee, a proofreader, friends and family, until it shines like a diamond illuminated by white lights of fascinating, beautiful data crystals.

What’s wrong? Write a great headline, avoid useless acronyms, keep the bragging to a minimum and most importantly, start with the most important story angle.  But that’s only the beginning.  Your job is to turn your information or story angle into an actual story.   To discover what really interests the media and what ticks them off, we asked reporters and editors for their thoughts on press releases.  The unofficial results: journalists loved them and asked for more.  They want you to increase your output, emailing and texting them constantly.

Now, let’s return to Planet Earth!

Samantha Murphy Kelly, Tech Reporter, Mashable
“Press releases are an efficient way to get news out to reporters, but often the language used is very dense and tedious to get through. I sometimes read an entire press release and can’t pull out the key takeaway. Subjects can be complicated to begin with, especially when it comes to science and technology, so language that really cuts to the chase and explains the news is most helpful. I always like to say, explain it to me in a sentence or two like you were telling your Grandmother, before getting into the specifics. It’s always good to know “why” the news is important too — if it’s not my main area of coverage, I could overlook groundbreaking news and just not know it. At the same time, it’s good not to oversell it with words like “groundbreaking” when it’s really not.  It’s definitely possible to find good stories in press releases, but because many people get the same announcement, there are limitations and writers don’t want to publish the same story as another outlet. By granting embargoes and doing pre-press release briefings, this will ensure the writer has enough time to put together an insightful piece and get the background information and quotes they need. That additional time is so appreciated."

Though many sensational headlines would lead you to believe otherwise, the press release is here to stay and remains a valuable tool in the communications arsenal. Releases can drive an organization's online visibility and discoverability, achieve long-term brand exposure and awareness, and secure media coverage, to name a few results. To secure these outcomes, communications professionals must craft interesting, compelling content that inspires social sharing and conversation.